Key in the Lakers 110-99 win over Utah on Friday night was the play of Kendall Marshall, who recorded career highs across the board – 20 points, 15 assists and six rebounds – in helping the team snap a six-game skid.
Coach Mike D’Antoni elaborated on Marshall’s play post practice and what allowed him to be so effective in just his fourth career start.
“He straightened up a lot of things, obviously the rhythm of the game and the pace that we want to set,” D’Antoni said. “If we can get better from here, that’s a good baseline. The rhythm he gives us is what it’s important.”
In addition to his 15 assists, the Lakers recorded 22 fastbreak points and totaled 33 dimes altogether on 42 made field goals. They shot 51.3 percent from the floor, as six players finished in double figures.
Also key in the victory was Pau Gasol, who nearly recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks. Despite missing three of the last six games with an upper respiratory infection, D’Antoni noted the 7-foot Spaniard looked healthy, and his play was in part due to the team’s offensive rhythm early.
“Once that is, he gets more confidence and being more aggressive,” he said. “We want Pau to be aggressive and we want him to be in the post every time – at least in the play every time.”
On the other side of the ball, D’Antoni inserted Robert Sacre into the lineup for defensive purposes. The coaching staff was pleased with how Sacre anchored the paint, particularly in the first quarter when the Jazz shot 6 of 26 from the floor (23.1 percent) towards an opponent season-low 12 points.
After using nine lineups in as many games and 18 through the first 33 games, D’Antoni said he plans to use the same unit of Marshall, Jodie Meeks, Nick Young, Pau Gasol and Sacre vs. Denver on Sunday.